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REVIEW: Simon Wright Band


July 21, 2012 by Josh Forner

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Evelyn Hotel – Tuesday 17/7/12

There’s an air of anticipation at the Evelyn Hotel tonight for those like me who can remember the two-year Monday night residency previously held by Simon Wright with his long-running funk/roots act; Simon Wright & The Eclective. Why? We’ve got a member of The Eclective back on stage – guitarist Tristan McCoppin – and just like the old Monday nights, the band are embarking on a double set!

I’m sitting by candlelight as Simon strums the classic blues intro to his opening song; a slow blues number which attributes the influence of to his blues-guitarist father from Byron Bay, aptly showing his versatility.

Drummer Shane Evans is introduced as his alter-ego ‘Shaggy’ by the third song which is always an entertaining novelty and crowd favourite (tonight is no exception), where Shane’s vocal style, generally reserved for harmonies and backing vocals, is brought to the forefront of the performance as he imitates 90’s rasta/rap star ‘Shaggy’ with impressive poise.

The familiar tunes begin to flow through: ‘Music’; ‘Four Letter Word’; ‘You Don’t Know’, all with the refreshing sounds of Tristan McCoppin’s super-clean telecaster.

There is something I find it hard to get over with this new line-up, however which is the lack of a horn section which used to give Simon’s tunes a punching line of versatility and presence. I hope Simon looks to reinstall this in the near future.

Also, the drumming style of Shane Evans may be far removed from that of his predecessors in Simon’s acts; but there is a certain air and feel that the two possess together that creates an intimate musical understanding. Shane lacks no talent on the kit, but coming from a hard rock/metal background, one cannot expect him to have the ‘polish’ usually associated with Mr. Wright’s music (this is certainly not a negative, but merely a comparison – I enjoy listening and watching Shane as much as I have any of Simon’s other drummers).

As per normal, the Simon Wright Band jump in and out of the soul/funk vibe they’re renowned for, finding their feet in a more 50’s-influenced rock & roll vibe at times, with the odd breakaway into hip-hop and reggae.

The usual rush to the dance floor is lead by Simon Wright Band’s cover of ‘Blame it On the Boogie’ which doesn’t quite hit me the same way that their version of ‘I Want You Back’ used to; nevertheless it does the job.

The second set rolls on and the crowd’s involvement heightens. There are a number of musicians from the crowd invited onto stage to play with the band later in the set as the party vibe Simon’s acts are renowned for hits full swing. One thing is for sure: it may not be a Monday night residency any more, but this man – no matter what musicians stand behind him – commands the Evelyn Hotel’s stage.

Simon Wright Band play each Tuesday at the Evelyn Hotel from 9 PM with support acts – free entry & $10 jugs of VB and Carlton. Their upcoming EP is available for pre-sale at www.simonwright.com

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Melting Pot.


Author Details

Josh Forner

Josh Forner is a folk/pop songwriter from Melbourne, Australia and Virginia, USA. Forner was born in Melbourne on July 2 1988, and spent the first 18 months of his life there before moving with his parents to the town of Reston in Virginia, USA. At the age of 3, Forner and his mother returned to Melbourne, where he has stayed ever since.

Josh sings of love, primarily (wow, what a shock right?), but also on his list of ‘hot topics’ are politics, famine, poverty and - of course – landscapes: the folk writer’s favourite.

He’s played with some of Melbourne’s stalwarts including Timothy Cannon, Bridget Pross, Mr Brady, Pro Rata, Gabriel Lynch & Kyle Taylor, and has contributed two of his tracks to non-profit compilation CDs in the past.

Josh’s repertoire continues to grow. He released his first album, a 10-track LP entitled ‘Leading to Nowhere’ at The Workers Club on May 28th, 2013. Forner has since returned to the studio to begin work on a 5-track solo EP to be released by the end of 2013. Following that, he has plans for album number two in 2014.


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